Archive for August 14th, 2019

Progress Being Made In Battling Drug Epidemic

August 14th, 2019 Comments off

Law enforcement in Potter County has been making in-roads when it comes to a multi-phased strategy to reduce the availability of illicit drugs in local communities, according to District Attorney Andy Watson. He reports that the impact of the Potter County East Drug Task Force, consisting of municipal police with support of the Pa. Attorney General’s Office, is being felt as arrests mount. The task force’s operations complement the work of the Pennsylvania State Police. They include a “community policing” element, by which citizens are encouraged to contact Watson directly to report suspicious behavior that might be related to drug trafficking.

Watson explained that investigators are focused largely on tracing the supply of illicit drugs and bringing the dealers to justice. There has been a rise in the use of methamphetamine in Potter County. At the same time, the use of heroin and prescription drug abuse remain pervasive. All of these substances are highly addictive. DA Watson has also spearheaded development of a unique opportunity to help drug addicts access treatment and support services. Under the Concerned Law Enforcement Against Law Enforcement (CLEAN) Protocol, those seeking help can contact a police officer and, rather than be arrested, be steered toward community resources for help. See details here.

At the same time, President Judge Stephen Minor and other members of the criminal justice system have teamed to implement two “specialty courts.” The Potter County Drug and DUI Courts allow qualifying criminal offenders to avoid criminal prosecution if they successfully complete a comprehensive, strictly supervised regimen to abstain from alcohol or other drugs and deal proactively with their addictions. Senior Judge John Leete presides over both courts. Participants are chosen by a team of law enforcement and social services professionals and supervised by the Potter County Probation Department.

Most recently, Potter County Commissioners Doug Morley, Paul Heimel and Susan Kefover approved Watson’s request to hire retired Pa. State Police officer Jake Rothermel under a six-month contract as county detective, a position that has been vacant for many years. He will work with the DA and police to investigate drug trafficking and other criminal activity. His focus will be on surveillance, prevention and public education.